It certainly took a while but the University of Missouri Board of Curators voted Wednesday to fire professor Melissa Click. The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Board Chairwoman Pam Henrickson made a prepared statement after the 4-2 vote:
“The board respects Dr. Click’s right to express her views and does not base this decision on her support for students engaged in protest or their views,” Henrickson said in the prepared statement. “However, Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.”
The statement from Henrickson cited Click’s behavior at the Homecoming parade, when she cursed at a police officer who was moving protesters out of the street, and on Nov. 9 at Concerned Student 1950’s protest site on the Carnahan Quadrangle. Her actions at the protest site, Henrickson said, “when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action.”
It was really that latter incident that made Click notorious. Last November she was recorded trying to eject a reporter with a video camera from the “safe space” a campus protest group had set up in a public area. When the reporter asked if he could speak to her Click replied, “No, you need to get out,” and grabbed his camera. When the reporter still refused to leave, Click turned back to some of the students who had formed a ring around the camp and yelled, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
While the dismissal of Click seems appropriate, it’s worth pointing out that she was not the only adult who was behaving like a bully that day. A review of the video (see below) shows dozens of students and some unidentified older adults surrounding, intimidating and shoving a student reporter who was trying to take pictures of the camp with a still camera. Melissa Click was wrong to call for “muscle,” so why aren’t the students who simply chose to act as muscle also in trouble with the board? Have any of them been disciplined in any way for their behavior? Don’t all of them, at a minimum, need a refresher course in the 1st amendment?
More worrisome than what happened in this one incident is the fact that the right to a free press seems to elude so many progressives. Earlier this week I wrote about a poll in which Democratic primary voters were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement, “Before a corporate owned media entity covers a campus rally for racial equality, they should first prove that they are not biased against the content of the rally.” The question didn’t mention the University of Missouri by name but it certainly applies to what happened there. An astounding 67% of Democrats said they agreed with the statement and just 19% disagreed.
So it seems as many as 2/3 of Democrats think Melissa Click was doing the right thing, albeit perhaps not in quite the right way. Click called for people to eject a reporter while Democrats are calling for some unspecified process to credential reporters so the disfavored ones can be held at bay. Either way the result is the same, i.e. a clear violation of the 1st amendment in order to preserve a “safe space” for progressives.
The bottom line is this: Melissa Click is not an outlier. On the contrary, if the poll is accurate, most progressive Democrats are in her corner, eager to call on someone (likely government) for a little muscle to interfere with the free press. Click’s firing is a good move. The real question is whether or not the majority of the Democratic party will learn anything from her mistake.